The new company IonKraft, which emerged from the German institute for plastics processing IKV in Aachen, has made progress with plasma coatings. Applied to packaging, they give them a barrier effect and allow their recycling, replacing multi-material solutions.
The start-up IonKraft, founded last April by Montgomery Jaritz and Benedikt Heuer (In the image above) seeks to use its plasma technology in plant engineering. Specifically, this plasma technology can make plastic packaging for barrier applications in the chemical industry are recyclable. In this way, multi-material solutions could be replaced. This technology has its origin in the research work carried out by the plasma technology working group of the institute IKV on plasma-polymer barrier coatings and corrosion protection.
Now, through IonKraft, the objective of its promoters is to find the way for its industrial application.
Production technology for plasma plastics coating
The key to this development lies in the design and production of a reactor lining plastic containers and gives them a chemically resistant barrier function. For the necessary process adjustments at the customer’s site, a diagnostic-based development routine is available, the origin of which can be traced back to the Idel KV research work carried out at the TR 87 Collaborate Research Center. Instead of conducting empirical tests, coatings are developed on the diagnostic basis. Consequently, IonKraft can guarantee the best functionality of the coatings to exactly match the individual packaging.
The close cooperation of IonKraft with IKV and RWTH Aachen University also continues after the founding of the company: IKV’s measurement technology, laboratories and machines remain at the disposal of IonKraft for complex testing and analysis.
In addition, the business project was, before its foundation, thoroughly examined by an external jury of experts, and is funded largely by the German Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy through the EXIST research transfer program.
A wide range of applications for IonKraft technology
Plasma layers applied by means of a newly designed reactor create a strong barrier to migration, for example for solvents. The design of the first reactor should allow coating containers up to 20 liters. This corresponds, for example, to the demand of the agricultural industry for the packaging of fertilizers or phytosanitary products. The advantage of coatings applied by plasma technology is that they can be applied extremely fine to monomeric materials and do not harm the recyclability of the sames. This effect can be used in many industries and applications. In the food packaging, for example, for which the process has already been approved; the coating acts as barrier to oxygen and prevents oxidation of the content.
The plasma reactor developed by IonKraft is designed to be able to coat vessels both inside and out. Thus, a two-sided coating can serve, for example, as an odor barrier. If an odor barrier is created through the plasma coating, the field of application of recyclates can, in principle, be extended and the cycle of plastics closed at a later time.
In a separate project at IKV, it is currently investigating the extent to which coatings are suitable for making post-consumer recycling safe for your reuse in the food sector.
*For more information: ionkraft.com